« The God Concept | Main | Contract deal points »

Monday, January 05, 2004


Scott Miller

-- Heh, I think Scott has pretty much got it with, "A game is a structured set of interactive problems intended to entertain."

Scot, please don't assign credit to me for this, it was the input of several people here that significantly bettered my original try. Also, not sure this is the best short definition possible, but IMO it's one of the best I've seen.

-- I've seen others attempt to define "game" in various discussions and, to be honest, I fail utterly to see the point. Why attempt to define "game?" What is to be gained by it?

Jeff, I agree that coming up with a definition isn't going to reshape the industry. It's more of a for-fun-only exercise that we'll all forget about within a week. ;-)

Jeff Mackintosh

Jeff, I agree that coming up with a definition isn't going to reshape the industry. It's more of a for-fun-only exercise that we'll all forget about within a week. ;-)
I do agree that it is a fun intellectual exercise and I think some people have come up with interesting definitions, but I also think it engenders a sort of elitism that I see far too often from game designers (well, everyone but we're focusing on the game industry here...).

It's sort of like the "game design as art" discussions. Who cares? It's a game. Some are artistic. Some are scientific (using my industry of pen-and-paper rpgs as an example, I think d20/D&D is a "scientifically" designed game while something like Baron Munchausen is "art" - both, however, are games and as viable as the other - and, most importantly, they are both _fun_).

While we have cool jobs (a friend once put it best - "our job is to help people have fun"), we aren't curing cancer or anything like that. We're making a form of entertainment, pure and simple. If it becomes memorable, cool. If it becomes thought-provoking, cool. In the end, however, our jobs are very simple - help people have fun. Everything else is pointless if we fail in that one basic, simple goal.

By the way, I certainly don't mean to be as confrontational as these messages are probably coming across... I'm just always curious why people feel the necessity to attempt to elevate their profession above what it really is. We aren't artists - we're game designers. It's a simple job (not easy - simple), but still a very cool job. I don't think we need to elevate it to "art" or define "game" in some hope of making our jobs better than they already are.

I guess it comes down to this - I see it being really simple. Since our jobs are "to help people have fun," then it should follow that a "game" (since we are "game designers") is anything one does to have fun. It requires no design nor structure (what are the rules to "Cowboys and Indians" anyways?), doesn't require interaction (who are you interacting with when you play Solitaire?), and stuff like that.

Anyhow, enough rambling for now... :)

Scott Miller

Yeah, I've said for some 14 years I don't care about the "Are games art?" debate. To me, it's rather obvious that most are not, and making art is not a care of mine. I'm in the entertainment business. If the future wants to look back and mark certain games as art, more power to them.

On most of these academic-minded issues I take a solid pragmatic stance.

Jeff Mackintosh

Yeah, I've said for some 14 years I don't care about the "Are games art?" debate. To me, it's rather obvious that most are not, and making art is not a care of mine. I'm in the entertainment business.
I'm reminded of an interview that Chantal Kreviazuk (a fantastic Canadian singer, in case anyone hasn't heard of her) gave. In it, she was asked, "When you're writing songs, are you thinking about making hit singles?"

Her reply, which I love, was, "Fuck yeah! I'm not stupid... I'm in the music business. I'm not in the music hobby."

Anyhow, some rambling that might be entertaining/interesting while I back stuff up to CD...

Dan MacDonald

"A game is a structured set of problems intended to entertain."

I like this as well; however I would trade the world "problems" with the word "interactions". I don't think games need to be limited to "problems", or perhaps "problems" is not the best way to put it.

At any level, a game is an entity of sorts. "Structured Set" is a very abstract way of saying this, but I think it works.

Good games are fun, therefore it follows that games are "intended to entertain". The thing that sets games apart from books, traditional art, or movies is the interaction between the game and the player. This is why I prefer the word "interactions" to "problems"

A game is a structured set of interactions intended to entertain.

Greg Findlay

How about:

A game is an interactive set of challenges designed with the intention of entertaining.

I don't think you can remove problems (or im my case challenges) because then a simple conversation could be considered a game. Which is one reason why I included designed. I think it suggests that the rules have to be made before being played. If the rules are changed in the middle of a game, it then becomes a new game with a different challege(s) to overcome.

I like challenges more because it suggests the possibility of loosing while while not neccessarily having a solution, which I think is more implied with problem.

btw, war doesn't fit this definition because it's intent in not to entertain. Some people might find it entertaining but it's intent is generally to conquer.

Jeff, I agree with the idea that game designer shouldn't try to elevate themselves by empowering what they do with definitions but I would also say that setting a definition to something can encourage people to break the rule and create something outside that definition and force a rethink of it. The same idea as a science.

Jesper Juul

"A game is an interactive set of challenges designed with the intention of entertaining."

How about removing "interactive" - what on earth does it mean in this context? How can a challenge be non-interactive?

"A game is a set of challenges designed with the intention of entertaining."

I think there are some issues around "intention" - we can use coins for playing a game, we can use computers, we can play "I spy" - all of these are based on things that weren't designed to entertain.

I also think that there a lot of things to be said about the particular challenges in games - they tend to be quite rule-bound, and the goals tend to be stated quited clearly. I.e. the goal of the game is to get a high score, not to move beautifully and so on. This isn't quite captured in "challenges", methinks.

Dan MacDonald

“Interactivity” (when discussed in the context of games) is generally understood as the ability of a game respond to input from the player. When the player peforms an action that causes a change in the gamestate, they have engaged in interaction with the game.

Using the definition …

"A game is a set of challenges designed with the intention of entertaining."

One could consider the series of logical brain teasers Scott posted a while back in the comments to be a "game". But then, how do you differentiate that experience from reading a murder mystery? Without including interactivity in the definition you loose a lot of the distinction between other media.

What about a movie that keeps you guessing at how it's going to end? Is it not offering you a set of challenges?

I think Will Wright said “SimCity” is not a game, it’s a toy. I tend to disagree with him, people interact with it and the interactions are fun, therefore it’s a game :)

I tend to agree with Scott, a pragmatic definition is best. I just think it should include interactivity because that is one of the defining features that set’s games apart from books, art, movies and other entertainment / media.

Brian S.

Fin definition:

"Structured Playable Entertainment"


Jeff Mackintosh

"Structured Playable Entertainment"
I would say this is the best definition of "game." While I think many of the others offered were thought-provoking, I think this is the most accurate and encompassing.

B. Waite

Scott, one of the things you mentioned in your post was that you didn't feel conflict was a requirement in the definition for game.

I'm not sure I understand why--I feel that conflict to be an integral part of the definition.

How do you define conflict?

Scott Miller

Conflict is the opposition of two forces or entities. Many games do not have conflict, such as Tetris, The Sims or many builder games. Challenge is a superset of conflict, and so I prefer that word.

And based upon all the great comments in this topic, currently I'm leaning toward this as my favorite definition:

A game is a structured set of challenges designed to entertain.

I've decided that I like "challenges" better than "problems," though I think they're close to interchangeable. I also like "designed" more than "intended" because it relates a little better to game design. The word "interactive" doesn't seem to be needed because challenges are interactive by nature.

BTW, "structured playable entertainment" is pretty darn good, too, but a little too compact and I think less easy to understand by someone not already familiar with games.

As this thread winds down, I just want to say that this ended up being a successful, cooperative think-tank exercise, and resulted in the best shorthand definition for game I've yet seen.


"A game is a structured set of challenges designed to entertain."

Why is the intent on the part of the creator part of the definition? Can a game be "designed to educate" or "designed to inform?"

For example, if you made the definition of a movie include "to entertain," wouldnt' you have to exclude documentaries?

In other words, why not merely leave it at "A structured set of challenges"?

The reaction, whether it's entertainment or other, is left up to the participant and eliminates the, "Well, I didn't like it, therefore it's not a game" dismissal.

Scott Miller

Steve, educational games are still designed to entertain. But a "structured set of challenges" that's not designed to entertain can easily be something other than a game. Entertainment is the core purpose of a game, and therefore should be part of the definition.

Another reason for the "designed to entertain" phrasing is that many games fail to entertain, but this shouldn't mean they're not games.

A movie, though, isn't necessarily about entertainment, though most movies are made for this purpose.

Shahar Eldar

Any kind of catagorization in a definition of games is a non issue, games are the Medium, not the product. Therefore a definition of games must be like any other definition, broad enough to include the entire medium, but narrow enough to exclude anything that is not a game.

My own definition of a game is

"A system of Rules, enabling players to make Choices and face Chalanges to obtain Goals"

To fully understand this, I must also define the parts, Rules and Goals are probably not required however, Choices are any decision the player makes which alters the end result of the situation and Chalange are any task which stands in the way of a goal and requires some level of skill to complete.

I think toys are not games, as they have no real chalange in them.
Neither are puzzles, as they do not contain much true choice (any choice you make in a puzzle is only correct or incorrect, you dont have a choice of reaching one solution or another)

As for the content which the game delivers, educational or not, emotionally connected or not, it is as relevant as the content of a painting or a movie, but completely independent from the medium itself.

The "entertainment" in games is derived from the feedback the player gets whenever he affects a change in the game world. This is part of my ideas on the elements of gameplay, as discussed in my website.


Hmm, that's a good definition Shahar, I like the terms you break it down into. To perhaps extend what you're saying a bit (and then veer off on my own!), considerations of "entertainment" or "fun", however influential they currently are in the creation of commercial product, are about as relevant to a definition of games as a medium as the concept of "prettiness" is to painting. I still flinch when I hear people invoke "fun" as the all-important, raison d'être quality of games when it's so clearly a completely subjective (and therefore useless to the creative process) term - how many times have you heard a painter say "My idea with this piece was to make it BEAUTIFUL"?

The creator's objective(s) in creating a piece (making money, producing "art", expressing a political agenda, etc) should not figure into any definition of the medium in which they're working. I honestly don't see how games are any different from film, books, fine arts et al in this case. Games can be created with any number of primary purposes in mind, entertainment is merely one.

Jeff Mackintosh

Games can be created with any number of primary purposes in mind, entertainment is merely one.
You're right - entertainment is not always the _primary_ purpose of a game. For educational games, "educate" is most likely the primary purpose. But, "entertainment" is always _one of_ the goals while "educate" may or may not be one of the goals.

Games are always intended to entertain, to one degree or another. If that is not one of their goals, they are not a game.


"Games are always intended to entertain, to one degree or another. If that is not one of their goals, they are not a game."

I don't really see why that has to be the case. We might just have to agree to disagree on that one, but allow me to better understand your point of view...

Say the military creates a simulation for training soldiers with game-like mechanics and an explicit goal structure. Is it still a game? It might entertain some of the soldiers who play it, but entertainment was expressly *not* a motive of the game's creators. What if this game turned out to be an exact copy (independently arrived at) of Pong? In this case there would be no structural differences - the only thing that would be different would be the purposes behind creation and the intentions of the creators.

Again, I would like to suggest a disentangling of authorial intent from the definition of the medium itself. This consideration does not appear anywhere in the academic taxonomies that have developed around other media.

A definition of games that places primacy on entertainment value betrays the narrow perspective of someone who make games for profit and can conceive of no other reason to do so.

Jeff Mackintosh

Say the military creates a simulation for training soldiers with game-like mechanics and an explicit goal structure. Is it still a game? It might entertain some of the soldiers who play it, but entertainment was expressly *not* a motive of the game's creators.
A tank simulator that improves tank drivers' abilities to drive tanks is an educational tool. If it is entertaining, that is a side-effect but was doubtfully a goal of the creators and, more importantly, entertainment was not a goal of the user - learning is.

The "America's Army" game was designed as an recruitment _game_, however. One of its goals _is_ entertainment. It is intended to be played for enjoyment. Specifically, the user uses it to entertain themselves.

Remember, I think the "Structured Playable Entertainment" definition is the best one that has come out of this discussion because it allows for a situation where an educational tool (a tank simulator, for example) can migrate from an educational tool to an educational game (or an outright game) if it is made available to users for entertainment. It is not longer a tool used to improve one's ability to do their job - it is now used to entertain the user. The intent of the creator is, as you point out, largely irrelevant but the intent of the useage is integrally important, imho.


So the tank simulator you mention is not a game? Is the only thing that makes a simulation a game whether the author intended for it to be entertaining? Doesn't that sort of depend upon knowing the author's intent (which is usually outside the context of the work itself)? If archeologists discover an ancient chessboard, is the game played on that board not verifiably (under your proposed definition) a game because we don't know the intentions of the author? Go was originally created to teach military strategy to a king's son, but for most of recorded history it's been played for enjoyment and education.

All of this seems to depend heavily upon external context, which I think is a weakness of the definition.

Brad Renfro

I assume that definitions should change depending on what you are doing? If you're a casual game designer who wants to look to other games as inspiration, does it matter at all what constitutes a game? If you're trying to study the effects of gaming on society, you need to be a little more rigorous about a definition but external context can probably be used. If you're a ludologist like Jesper, you want a strict set of rules that can be applied unambiguously to properly bound your research. So maybe all this arguing about one single definiton is for naught :)


That is perhaps the best point that's been made thus far. Definitions are tools for thinking on a subject.

Shahar Eldar

Whether a game is entertaining or not should not be any concern of the definition, earlier on somone mentioned that games are usually "intended" to entertain. Entertainment however is derived by the player, not necesarily infused in by the designer. I've seen people being entertained by much simpler things than games, the industry is an entertainment industry though, which means that games have to somehow be viewed as entertaining as they are currently made or they will not make any money. So I think if you want to include entertainment in your definition, you are somehow including "has to make money" as well, making a game into a type of product, not a kind of artistic medium.


"I think it suggests that the rules have to be made before being played. If the rules are changed in the middle of a game, it then becomes a new game with a different challege(s) to overcome."

-- I have played a card game ("Bartoc" - don't ask why) numerous times in which the winner of a round invents a new rule which is then in effect for the rest of the game (this rule cannot remove another rule, but can expand upon it). The game begins with only three basic rules (Which are not explained at the beginning of the game - when you get what they are it is more fun to watch others try and grasp them):
1 - You start with *7* (pick a number, any number) cards each.
2 - You win by having no cards in your hand, and you can only play a single card at a time.
3 - If you ask what the rules are you are given another card (obviously 'someone' needs to know these three rules to begin.

I have played this game with several groups and with a few variations on the starting rules (otherwise the winner of the first round is the first person to throw down their cards one at a time, which takes about 3 seconds). This contrasts with the quote at the beginning of my post regarding changing rules = changing game. I think that if rule changes are part of the game, then there is a meta-game of sorts which involves the challenge of remembering which rules are in effect and which aren't. I don't think it is not a new game because the rules change (although I'm not religious about this part).

Tadhg Kelly

This whole business of trying to fully define what is a game is getting us nowhere chaps, because with so many forms and so many variables, you always end up having to go back to the absolute basics to define anything.

In otherwords, all game definitions will invariably gravitate toward the 'interesting decisions', 'fun obstacles' or 'a load of rules for what you do' or some similar vagueness. It is as futile as trying to define what a story is.

Story comes in so many forms, and each of those forms has such strengths and weaknesses that invariably the definitions of story come down to similarly all-encompassing vagueness. It is the different frameworks of stories, from novels to epic poems, films to radioplays and so on, that are more easily organised because they have understandable strengths and weaknesses as forms. Film can communicate visually, radio can fire the imagination with sound, novels can get into the heads of characters, and so on.

Games also come in several very different strands. Table games (board and card), sports, paper roleplaying games, and videogames (and many more). Each has traits that are only very barely related to the other forms. We can draw lines that connect basketball and Stratego, much as we can draw lines that connect the Morte D'Arthur with Legally Blonde, but it is as plain as punch that they are wildly different in both cases. And those lines we draw, well they're pretty meaningless as a result.

When you consider that games can test your skills, wits, intuition, intelligence, and luck, can enable imaginative fantasy, can have explicit structure or implicit structure (videogames' greatest strength), can be serious, professional, amateur, geeky, sporty, spoken, tokens, learning exercises, gambling exercises, on and on, the whole 'what is a game' debate thing will never ever reach a satisfactory conclusion.

So what about focussing on real problems instead, like a definition of love :)


If it has most of these qaulities it constitutes being called a game:
1. fun
2. problems and solutions
3. skill and learning curve
4. interactiveness

therefore a game = fun, interactive playing.


"1. fun
2. problems and solutions
3. skill and learning curve
4. interactiveness"

Is driving your car a game? Because it's fun, has problems and solutions, requires skill, has a learning curve, and is interactive.

I personally like, "A system of rules which enable players to make choices and face challenges to obtain goals" from above. It's very academic, and doesn't sound "fun," but it does as good a job as any of these of breaking down the major components of a game.


Just my 2 cents..

A videogame is an interactive electronic medium that entertains an end user(s).

A bit broad and general but it should fit every genre.

CM Lubinski

"A videogame is an interactive electronic medium that entertains an end user(s)."

This works well except the fact that interactive would need to be a bit more descriptive. After all, a movie DVD fits this deffinition, and in most cases, this is not a game.

Jim Vessella

This is quite different from the games we're talking about, but what about negotiation and mind games such as the economic subject of Game Theory. I'm sure most everyone has heard of or dealt with the prisoner's dilemma, and it was even used in Knights of the Old Republic during the Kashyyk star map quest.

I'm curious if certain academic and business decisions can be defined as games. Think about the pricing strategies of video games. What if instead of the generic 40 - 50 dollar retail price, you do as Serious Sam and only charge $20? In essence "Game Theory" suggests that the entire market of video games is a game in itself to maximize your profits and market share.

I wonder if this idea of business as a game fulfills the definitions we've been talking about, anybody have any thoughts?

Shahar Eldar

Game theory is a mathematical field completely independent of games as a whole, it looks at systems and players in another light. while it could be applied to games, it is not what games are "about" at least in my own view, an integral factor of games, is that they are an extension of play activity (this is an activity present in most mammals, not just humans) where play is a contrived activity with some reliance on implied rules, games are an extension of that to include definite rules, and specific goals

(by the way, goals do not mean simply victory, they can simply be "avoid being hurt as long as possible (smash TV)" or "fill up whole lines (tetris)" or simple short term goals like "wizard needs food, badly"


I think the fact that games don't have to be "fun" to fit everyone's best definition of "game" is in itself a good argument to quit searching for the magic definition and get back to work making games that don't suck.

I mean, sheesh, 10,000 game blogs on the same subject isn't going to make the magic bottle of marktetable mojo appear lots faster. Get back to work. :P


Game is just a WORD..

Game Play: A personal challenge to achieve a goal or set of goals in which fun and enjoyment are experienced through one’s active accomplishments.

Team Game Play: A combined effort of two or more people to achieve a goal or set of goals in which fun and teamwork are experienced through active corporation and accomplishments.

Gamer(s): A person or person(s) that game play with a desire to interact and experience fun by measured achievements.

Note: The word game can and is normally used as an abbreviated form to define many variations synonymous with “playing to have fun”. The definitive meaning of the word game can take on many forms but ultimately we game play to interact and have fun.

Shahar Eldar

"Word" is just a word. However, it's an understanding among language users that unless specifically stated otherwise most words are infact used to represent concepts.

Nailing down which concept fits which word is the subject of this perticular discussion
(i'm a bit of a logic freak, accoarding to logic, a definition is the part that determines what word attaches to what concept, many words are attached to more than one concept, and vice versa, but the question proposed here is specific to how would you define a game, therefore we are trying to nail down what a game is, subjectively so that we can further explore the subject, objectively)

good day :)


Perhaps something an added word would make some difference:

A videogame is an continuously interactive electronic medium that entertains an end user(s).

That way any other medium that relies on a one button push to start a movie or whatever wouldn't adhere to this...though I guess if you kept navigating the menus this point would be mute. Humph...this is a great post to read and learn from.

Ben Sawyer

One small item...

Scott you made a point about games-as-art that makes this seem somewhat irrelevant as an issue.

I think it's important to remember that as a means of free speech if we're not careful to argue that games are an artistic medium then we could short-circuit a key argument relevant to first ammendment rights.

I agree in that it's hard to call specific instances of specific games "art" in a singular sense but we shouldn't think or stop promoting that game design, even commercial games, and production as a medium doesn't provide the same level of artform possibilities as movies, plays, books, etc. lest we risk jeopardizing an interpretation of things that adds to the protection of those creating such works regardless of how perfectly "artistic" they may seem to any single or number of individuals.

Scott Miller

Very good point, Ben.


Very good then. "Games aren't art, but we must remember to argue the converse to secure constitutional protection."


I don't have a problem with games not being defined as art, as my country's constitution doesn't guarantee free speech anyway :) (It's more of a convention, but if "they" really wanted to, they could take it away)

Perhaps games aren't art, but rather a vehicle for art. The act of pushing buttons etc isn't itself going to provide much of an emotional impact or anything. The images provided/stories told and so on are most probably art.


Where are you from? New Zealand?

And games can definitely be art! No need to argue the converse of a denial when there are plenty of people willing to wholeheartedly argue an affirmation. ;)

Scott Miller

Is it really necessary for a work/product to be classified as art to deserve free speech protection under the law? This doesn't seem right, but then I'm not knowledgeable enough to know.


"The act of pushing buttons etc isn't itself going to provide much of an emotional impact or anything."

By that logic, neither will watching light projected through printed celluloid 24 times every second. Or listening to a bow of horsehair drag across strings made of sheep's guts.

If everyone continues to expect the interactive portions of games to be meaningless and tawdry, that will continue to be the case.


Sorry, didn't make myself clear at all on that one.
I think that the button mashing etc isn't art, but what that button mashing entails can be (ie- the gameplay. does that make any sense?) So the result of the button mashing can be art (not just 'pretty cut scenes') in the same way that projecting light through celluloid in itself isn't art, but what you get as a result is (ie - a movie). I think the interactive portion of games should take precedence over cut-scenes (I usually skip them anyway) HL did a good job of this, by not having any cutscenes (so nothing to skip).

I also think games should definitely be allowed free speech (I think having to be classified as art is crap, I don't play art, I observe it... much like final fantasy ;) ), I was just offering another point of view. TV isn't art, but what you see on it can be.


and another old thread to post in (you can tell it's a slow day at work!), but Brian's and Richard's posts really brought something into perspective for me. There's two entirely different beasts that are called "video games", these days. There's what you might call the Meier-type games, which are much more "games" than "video". They're games, they're play, you can apply game theory to them, they're what we called in another thread "process-based". Richard suggests that if games aren't art they're pointless, but for *this* type of game that's clearly not true; true games, in this sense, are a completely different field of experience from art, but no less valid. Read any good book on game theory, famous games (chess, Go, whatever), or Iain M. Banks' "The Player of Games", and you'll understand why.

The other type of game is what Richard's talking about, and the type of game Scott is clearly more interested in making; they're a little more "video" than game, you can't apply game theory to them, and they are trying to be art. These are the games where we tend to talk about story, the ones which people tend to try and apply horrible labels with the word "interactive" to. They really are a completely different animal from the first type of game. It's a bit of a revelation to realise just how much ground separates, say, Animal Crossing and Max Payne.

One more interesting thing about FPS games is it's the one genre I can think of that really straddles both styles. Early FPS games were the first type of game - Wolf3D isn't going to engage anyone with its story, no-one in their right mind would call it art. As the games have developed they've inched further towards being the second type of game, while never really making it there as much as other types of games (RPGs, adventure games) have in the past.

Doom is probably the last single-player FPS that's more or less purely the first type of game (Quake3 is an example of a later FPS that's the same); it's got a bit of a story, and the art is excellent, but it's not art and it doesn't try to be. The enjoyment involved in Doom, Quake3 or any other game of this type comes from a dynamic surprisingly close to that in a strategy game, or in Animal Crossing, or in poker, although FPS games add an element of urgency. A very, very good Quake3 player I know once observed to me that FPS gaming at a high level is, basically, maths, or at least a very similar form of high-level abstract thought.

well, that rambled a bit, but my basic point was in the first two paragraphs there. consider the rest bonus material. :)


oops, I just realised I shouldn't have referred to "game theory" above - as others mentioned, that's actually a field of mathematics which is really only tangentially related to actually playing games. I meant the academic study of how games work and why people like to play them, whatever one calls that. Ludology? :)

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Recent reads

  • : The Little Book That Beats the Market

    The Little Book That Beats the Market
    I've totally revised my investment strategy on this once-in-a-lifetime investment book. Very quick read, as it gets right to the point. (*****)

  • : The One Percent Doctrine

    The One Percent Doctrine
    Superb book on the policies that lead us to the current Iraq war. Two words: Blame Cheney! (Well, and Bush too, but he's not the linchpin.) (*****)

  • : Brands & Gaming

    Brands & Gaming
    Mostly inconsequential book that doesn't really explain HOW to make a successful game brand. Instead, it focuses on marketing for game brands. (***)

  • : Cleopatra's Nose: Essays on the Unexpected

    Cleopatra's Nose: Essays on the Unexpected
    Truly wonderful book, mostly dealing with history, by one of my all-time favorite writers. The final chapters, written in 1995, give a clear reason why America should not be in Iraq, if you read the underlying message. (*****)

  • : Myth & the Movies

    Myth & the Movies
    Great study of a wide range of hit movies, using The Hero's Journey as a measuring stick. Very useful for game developers. (****)

  • : Kitchen Confidential

    Kitchen Confidential
    This chef is clearly in love with his writing, but the fact that he's a non-innovative, hack chef makes this book less insightful than I was hoping. Still, a fun read. (***)

  • : See No Evil

    See No Evil
    I do not list 2-star or lower books here, and this book almost didn't make the cut. A somewhat unexciting behind-the-scenes look at the life of a CIA field agent working against terrorism. The book's title is spot on. (***)

  • : The Discoverers

    The Discoverers
    Love books like this, that offer deep insights into the growth of science throughout history, and giving a foundation of context that makes it all the more incredible that certain people were able to rise above their time. (*****)

  • : Disney War

    Disney War
    I started reading this and simply could not stop. A brilliant behind-the-scenes account of the mistakes even renowned CEOs make, and the steps they'll take to control their empire, even against the good of shareholders. (*****)

  • : The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health

    The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health
    Do not read this book if you prefer to believe that the government actually gives a poop about your well being. (*****)

  • : From Reel to Deal

    From Reel to Deal
    Subtitled, "Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film." And much of it applied to the game industry. A revealing look at the true machinery of movie making. (****)

  • : The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

    The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
    The building of world's most technological structure for its time, against pitfalls, deaths and political intrigue. An amazing tale, told amazingly well. (*****)

  • Richard Feynman: What Do You Care What Other People Think?

    Richard Feynman: What Do You Care What Other People Think?
    My first book by Feymann will not be my last. A champion of common sense and insightful thought, Feymann's story-telling about life's events is riveting. (*****)

  • : Marketing Warfare

    Marketing Warfare
    A revised re-release of one of the all-time best marketing books. Only bother reading this is you care about running a successful company. (*****)

  • : YOU: The Owner's Manual

    YOU: The Owner's Manual
    Another good overview of way to protect your health in the long run. It's all about prevention, rather than hoping medicine can fix us when we're broken (i.e. heart disease or cancer). (****)

  • : The Universe in a Single Atom

    The Universe in a Single Atom
    Perfectly subtitled, "The Convergence of Science and Spirituality." Buddhism meets relativity, and believe it or not, there's a lot of common ground. (****)

  • : See Spot Live Longer

    See Spot Live Longer
    Feeding your dog at least 65% protein? Most likely not, as all dry dog foods (and most canned, too) absolutely suck and have less than 30% protein. And that is seriously hurting your dog's health in the long run. (****)

  • : 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free

    17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free
    Anyone who needs motivation to make something of their life -- we only get one chance, after all! -- MUST read this book. (*****)

  • : Ultrametabolism

    Perfect follow up to Ultraprevention. Health is at least 80% diet related--nearly all of us have the potential to live to at least 90, if we just eat better. (****)

  • : How to Tell a Story

    How to Tell a Story
    Great overview of story creation, especially from the point of view of making a compelling stories, with essential hooks. (****)

All-Time Best